Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hillsborough 25 years on

I can recall clearly that April day in 1989. I had gone for a run down the Manifold Valley. It was a beautiful sunny day and many had also taken the opportunity to visit the Peak District. However it was soon clear that there was a problem at Hillsborough from the radio reports coming from the cars parked on the verge at Wetton Mill. The comments made grim listening, as news of the terrible disaster in South Yorkshire became known. I phoned my Father who always maintained a media blackout on such occasions, as he wanted to watch the match later on TV. He was a big fan of Brian Clough whose Nottingham Forest team were playing Liverpool in the FA Cup semi final. He refused to listen and yelled that he did not want to know the score. In the end the result was 96 dead- including a young man from Endon.

Some years later I was on a train in the Wirral and noticed a very drunken man wearing a "Justice for the 96" tee shirt. It would have been his brothers 40th birthday that day. His brother had died in the disaster aged 22.

I have always liked Liverpool and Liverpudlians and I have never moved an inch from the view that the victims and their families had suffered a great injustice. It now seems my unalterable faith was justified. The recent report detailed the whole terrible catalogue of mistakes and what is unforgivable, the exertions by authorities in South Yorkshire to cover up the culpability of their actions by blaming the Liverpool fans. The behaviour included the appalling attempt by the Police and a Tory MP in Sheffield to pin the responsibility of the disaster on the dead. In this they were aided by the Sun newspaper spewing toxic material in an effort to blacken the reputation of the victims. They all now stand revealed as being answerable for one of the greatest conspiracies in modern times. Could it happen now? I like to think not and the existence of Freedom of Information legislation and the much-maligned Human Right Act has secured, I hope,a change of culture.

Public authority will no longer be able so easily to evade their guilt and hold in contempt the citizens they are supposed to serve